Roster Review: Safety

An all Canadian position on the Eskimos defense, safety was determined to be an area where the Eskimos needed an upgrade going into the 2009 season. So Ritchie Hall called up his former safety in Saskatchewan, Scott Gordon, and invited him to move out west. Gordon signed on the dotted line, was put in as the starter and promptly got injured. Now with Gordon retiring, the Eskimos only have two safeties on the roster with any experience. I will be publishing my thoughts on Saleem Borhot (posted this morning) and Corbin Sharun later this week, so for now, I’m just going to talk about current safeties Jason Nugent and Elliot Richardson.

What the coaches might be looking for.

Health and fast development. Scott Gordon has retired. The Eskimos are going to need a replacement. Jason Nugent and Elliot Richardson are entering their fifth and second seasons respectively in the league, so their willingness to improve and seize a the starting role are important. Don’t get me wrong, I heard Danny Machocia when he said he thinks Saleem Borhot will compete for a starting role, but Borhot is not an elite prospect. He will need time to develop, so the coaches are going to have to been watching Nugent and Richardson very carefully.

Current Roster.

Jason Nugent. A player originally drafted by the Eskimos in 2006, he was traded after only one season to Winnipeg, before being reacquired prior to last season. He fills a role on special teams and can be inserted into the lineup in the event of injuries. He is very athletic and just needs to take that next step to become a starter in the league. A good depth player to have that could wind up staring.

Elliot Richardson. Richardson plays the game with heart. As an undersized safety (5’9″, 190 lbs.), he goes until the whistle blows as BC Lions quarterback Buck Pierce found out last year when Richardson pasted the sliding quarterback and knocked him out. In Richardson’s defense, Pierce should have slid much sooner than he did. He did start 12 games in relief of the injured Gordon, but Richardson is at his best on special teams and as a back-up. With the departure of Gordon, Richardson could once again be thrust into the spotlight of being a starter.

Changes???

If I had written this update three days ago, I would have said none.  Now a new starter will need to emerge from a group of back-ups and prospects. Although Richardson started more games last year in relief of the injured Gordon, I wonder if Nugent can jump ahead of him on the depth chart. Either way, replacing Scott Gordon is not an easy task. Someone will have to step up and take the lead.

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